Desk Diving: Joe’s Tudor Lollipop 

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Change can be both exciting and scary. Three weeks ago I started a new job – a complete 180 degree career reboot. I was way overdue for a makeover in the work department and felt optimistic about my future. But at the end of my first day, I’ll be honest – I was freaking out a little: what did I get myself into?

I’m happy to report that after almost a month on the job, I’ve managed to pull it together. One reason why I’ve settled in has to do with the people I work with; who’ve made me feel like part of the team. As “the new guy” in the office, I hoped I would fit in with the group; have something in common with one of my coworkers to spark a conversation and start building rapport. On day 3 of my first week, I found that person and the topic.

During a Wednesday morning meeting, I caught a glimpse of something on Joe’s wrist that looked all too familiar to me. He was wearing what appeared to be a Submariner-esque watch…

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Later that afternoon Joe stuck his head into my office – his old office – looking for a favorite pen. He thought it might be in the pullout drawer in the middle of the desk I was sitting behind. As he reached with his left hand to slide the drawer open, his suit jacket sleeve rode up his arm – along with his shirt cuff. That’s when I got a confirmed sighting: Joe was indeed wearing a Submariner – a vintage Tudor Sub. I couldn’t believe my luck. Of course I’m used to seeing super-cool pieces at watch meetups and occasionally on a bystander’s wrist in public. But the furthest thing from my mind was my watch hobby showing up at my new gig – among photo copiers, conference call devices, and file cabinets.

A little shell-shocked from the encounter – I totally missed whether it was a “Snowflake” or some other dial variant. Had I asked for a second look right then and there, my workday would’ve been shot: I could see myself getting into a nice long chat and thereby getting absolutely zero work done the rest of the day. That being said, I couldn’t let Joe leave without telling him he had an awesome watch. I complimented it, but bit my tongue when it came to inquiring additional details. I simply asked if he would mind sharing it with me on a lunch break one of these days. Joe was totally game; he left telling me it was his dad’s and he didn’t know much about it.

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Later that day when I was passing by Joe’s cubicle, he poked his head up and asked if I was free to talk about his watch. Since I’d been staring at a computer screen for the past 3 hours – and could desperately use a break – I jumped at Joe’s invitation. First thing Joe said to me: “I was never a watch guy.” As a teenager and into his early twenties he developed a taste for every kind of accessory – except watches. “I got my ears pierced, I have tattoos, at one point I wore 5 rings; I always had a necklace and a bracelet on.”

Joe’s Tudor Sub was originally a gift – from his mom to his dad. She bought it on Wabash Street in Chicago in the early ’80s. Growing up in the ’90s, Joe remembers his dad “always wearing it; it was on all the time,” but he never paid attention to the brand. He told me his dad “had a physical job; he was a police officer for 33 years – assigned to mass transit detail. He wore it on the “L” train chasing down criminals, wrestling ’em – stuff like that.” When his dad wasn’t busy catching bad guys, he was spending time with his family. One memory that stands out is his dad wearing it in the summertime, while he went swimming. Joe recalled that his dad “would keep it on in the pool; once we were at a Marriott pool with a deep end a good 12 feet – he dove down to the bottom with it on.”

It never dawned on Joe what kind of watch his dad was wearing – it was just a watch his dad wore while earning a living and relaxing on the weekends. It wasn’t the watch he remembers so much, but rather the time he spent with his dad. And since Joe’s dad passed away in 2002, those memories are what’s most important.

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Joe started a month before me – in January. This was his first suit and tie job, so he went out and bought a whole new wardrobe. He shared his new opportunity with his Mom – who felt her son needed a watch to complete his “dress for success” look. So she decided to give Joe his dad’s Tudor, which she had kept in safety deposit box for over a decade.

At first he told her “I don’t really want it; I don’t really need it.” He described to me the gist of their mother-son talk: “She kept saying it’s a Rolex and I said ‘No I’ve seen it; it’s not a Rolex. If it’s a Rolex I’ll wear it. I saw the name on the dial, it doesn’t say Rolex, I don’t want it…'” But Joe’s Mom really wanted him to have it; it meant something to her for Joe to inherit his dad’s – her husband’s – watch. Joe finally honored his mom’s wishes: “As soon as my Mom gave it to me and I put it on for the first time, she started crying.”

After receiving it, Joe did what anybody living in the 21st century would do if they’re curious about something: he turned to Google for answers… He searched “Tudor Prince Oyster Date Prince Submariner” – literally the words printed on the dial. Joe said he “couldn’t find a picture at all of this exact watch with [this] exact hour hand – without the mercedes symbol in it. [He] actually thought it might be a knock off.” Of course the second I got the chance to hold it, I did what any good friend would do… I not only confirmed it was the genuine article, but I also broke down his watch for him: He owned a ref. 76100 “Lollipop” Tudor Submariner.

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Joe has said to me a number of times how much he appreciates his dad’s watch even more after learning details about it from me. From recommending a watchmaker to explaining the miracle Polywatch can perform on the crystal, Joe has been all ears to find out more about his dad’s Tudor. In turn, I feel fortunate to have met Joe. Whether he realizes it or not, our time spent chatting about his watch – something I’m very comfortable doing – has made my transition into a new work environment go a lot smoother…

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